Gear News

Merida launch 2018 Reacto aero bike – ‘lighter, more aerodynamic, more comfortable’

New bike breaks cover ahead of Tour de France, where Bahrain-Merida team will be using it

Look out for Merida’s updated Reacto aero bike at the Tour de France. The German-Taiwanese firm has launched the revamped bike ahead of Saturday’s Grand Départ, with claims of reduced weight, improved aerodynamics and increased comfort.

Merida first launched the Reacto in 2011 and, after an update in 2014, this third iteration has broken cover – with both rim and disc brake versions. You’ll see members of the Bahrain-Merida team riding the former at the Tour.

These are the key claims and headline features coming out of the model year 2018 Reacto launch before we get stuck into the details:

Merida’s flagship aero bike, the Reacto, has been updated
  • Aerodynamic performance improved by a claimed five per cent
  • Rim brake frame weight reduced from 1,250g to 1,010g
  • Comfort increased by ten per cent
  • Twelve builds (including five disc brake bikes), based around two frame platforms (flagship CF4 and mid-range CF2)
Merida say the model year 2018 Reacto is lighter, more aero and more comfortable than its predecessor

Free speed

The Reacto is one of two top-level frames available to the Bahrain-Merida team – however, whereas the Scultura focuses primarily on low weight, with subtle aero styling introduced to the latest model in 2015, the Reacto is focused firmly on cheating the wind.

Merida say the model year 2018 Reacto offers an eight-watt aerodynamic advantage over the outgoing model, which equates to roughly a five per cent improvement.

The new Reacto’s aerodynamic gain comes primarily from the use of slimmer tube profiles (including on the headtube, which now has a 1-1/4″ lower bearing, instead of 1-1/2″), lower seatstays, which also have a sweeping inward bend, and, on the flagship CF4 frame, an integrated cockpit from Vision.

Merida has continued to use its ‘NACA Fastback’ truncated tube profiles across the bike, other than on the seatstays and toptube. The toptube now has a tapered design at the front, rising to meet the headset aero spacers to provide a smooth transition with the one-piece cockpit. Integration continues with the beefy fork and headtube junction.

Two geometry options

Before we get too much further, it’s useful to point out the Reacto frame will be available at two levels – CF4 and CF2, both with rim and disc brake options.

The flagship CF4 frame is designed for the pros and has an aggressive race geometry to match. The second-tier CF2, meanwhile, has a more relaxed geometry, aimed at ‘amateur enthusiasts’, according to Merida, rather than Vincenzo Nibali and co.

For example, a M/L (that’s Merida’s equivalent of a 56cm) CF4 frame has a 157mm headtube, whereas the CF2 chassis has a 177mm headtube. The CF2 is also slightly heavier and, as a result, more affordable, while you’ll find a regular handlebar instead of the integrated unit.

Merida have lowered the seatstays and slimmed the tubes in order to improve aerodynamics

Reduced weight

While the Reacto is an aero bike at heart, Merida have also sought to reduce the weight of the frame, primarily through the use of a new carbon layup and by slimming down the tubes.

Merida say the rim brake CF4 frame comes in at 1,010g (with a 368g fork), while the disc version weighs a claimed 1,030g (398g fork). The rim brake CF2 frame, meanwhile, tips the scales at a claimed 1,093g (403g fork) and the disc equivalent weighs 1,150g (443g fork).

Taking a closer look at the CF4 rim brake ‘frame kit’ (that’s the frame, fork, seatpost, seatpost claim and headset), the outgoing Reacto came in at 2,046g, while the new model weighs a claimed 1,695g.

Crucially, however, Merida say the Reacto’s diet hasn’t come at the cost of stiffness. “The old Reacto was already super-stiff. There was no ambition to increase stiffness again,” said Merida’s product direct, Jürgen Falke.

Merida Reacto Disc
Merida Reacto Disc
Merida Reacto Disc

S-Flex comfort

In recent years, comfort has become an ever-important consideration – even when it comes to aero bikes. Gone are the days when a bike brand could get away with making a machine which performs well in the wind tunnel, while rattling your fillings out on the road.

You may already be familiar with Merida’s S-Flex seatpost, which previously had a cutout to allow more flex. This latest version has a bigger ‘window’, now with a silicone rubber insert which, when combined with the re-profiled seatstays, adds up to a claimed ten per cent improvement in comfort.

The S-Flex seatpost has been updated to boost comfort

The finer details

While the Reacto is designed with aerodynamic efficiency in mind, Merida say simplicity was high on the design agenda. “Overly complex solutions create a nightmare for mechanics, resulting in costly workshop bills,” said Falke.

So while cables run internally and the integrated cockpit keeps things clean at the front end, the routing is otherwise fairly standard and Merida have sought to make the design as user-friendly as possible. Switching to a larger cable port on the downtube, as seen on the Scultura, is part of that, Merida, say, without reportedly having a negative impact on aerodynamics.

Merida have also used regular direct mount brakes, rather than a proprietary design which could further integrate with the frame, as seen on the like of the Trek Madone. That said, the rear brake continues to live behind the bottom bracket, which is a little baffling to us.

The top-level flagship CF4 frame comes with an integrated Vision Metron 5D handlebar

The disc frame, meanwhile, uses the same aluminium cooling fins as the Scultura Disc, in a bid to stop the brakes over-heating and fading on long descents. However, whereas the Scultura used the fins only on the rear brake, the Reacto has them at both ends. The Reacto, by the way, is designed for use with 160mm rotors at the front and rear.

As we’ve already mentioned, the top-end CF4 frame comes with a Vision Metron 5D cockpit (with an integrated Shimano Di2 junction box), while the CF2 continues to use aero headset spacers but compatible with a round stem and handlebar. You can also run the Reacto CF4 with a standard setup.

Both the rim and disc brake frames are based around a BB386 bottom bracket and offer clearance for 25mm tyres. The disc frames use thru-axles at the front and rear. The CF4 gets the same R.A.T. system as the Scultura Disc, with the aim of speeding up wheel changes, while the CF4 gets standard threaded thru-axles.

Twelve bikes to choose from

The 2018 Merida Reacto will be available in twelve builds – seven with rim brakes and five with disc brakes. UK prices and availability are to be confirmed but here are the specifications due to hit bike shops.

Merida Reacto Team-E
Rim and disc brake (CF4 frame)
Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, Fulcrum Speed 55 wheels

Merida Reacto 9000-E
Rim and disc brake (CF4 frame)
SRAM Red eTap, Vision Metron 55 wheels

Merida Reacto 8000-E
Rim and disc brake (CF4 frame)
Shimano Ultegra Di2, Vision Metrol 55 wheels

The 2018 Reacto is available with rim and disc brakes. The rim brake bike comes with direct mount calipers, with the rear brake situated behind the bottom bracket

Merida Reacto 7000-E
Rim and disc brake (CF2 frame)
Shimano Ultegra Di2 mix with FSA Energy chainset, Fulcrum wheels (model TBC)

Merida Reacto 6000
Rim brake (CF2 frame)
Shimano Ultegra, Fulcrum wheels (model TBC)

Merida Reacto 5000
Rim and disc brake (CF2 frame)
Shimano Ultegra with FSA Gossamer Pro chainset, Merida Expert wheels

Merida Reacto 4000
Rim brake (CF2 frame)
Shimano 105 with FSA Gossaner Pro chainset, Merida Expert wheels

We’ll be riding the rim brake Merida Scultura with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 tomorrow, so watch out for a first ride review soon.

Website: Merida Bikes

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